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Willem Smelik

This book forms a contribution to the vexing question of the origin and growth of the Targum to the Prophets. It provides an in-depth analysis of the Targum of Judges on the basis of new materials (unpublished manuscripts), a new tool (bilingual concordance) and a new method (analysis of consistency).
A critical review of previous research concerning the Targum's origin and growth is followed by an analysis and collations of many Western manuscripts, a systematic comparison of the Targum with the ancient translations, a study of its exegetical traditions and a thorough examination of its consistency.
On this basis it is suggested that the Targum assumed its basic form in the second century CE, due to the emergency of the rabbinic tradition, but outside the context of the synagogue.
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Willem Smelik

Abstract

The Aramaic fragments of the Toldot Yeshu have long been recognized as the oldest version of this polemical tradition which was translated, and elaborated, into many other languages, and transmitted throughout the centuries after its inception. The Aramaic dialect of these fragments has been described as an artificial mixture of Palestinian and Babylonian Aramaic. A grammatical analysis of each of these fragments reveals that they display the signs of an incomplete dialectal translation from Western to Eastern Aramaic, with conspicuous Western Aramaic morphemes in one fragment. On the other hand, the vast majority of the text of the other fragments is written in a blend of two Eastern Aramaic stocks, one literary type Aramaic which resembles that of Onqelos, and one more colloquial dialect which comes very close to Talmudic Aramaic. Finally, the hybrid construction of the agreement pronoun attached to the nota objecti, followed by the direct object marked by, suggests that the text received further linguistic updating in the West at a relatively late stage in the textual history of this tradition.

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Willem Smelik

Abstract

Two fragments in the Cambridge Genizah Collections preserve an odd specimen of Aramaic liturgical poetry in two copies. The poem is a pastiche from Biblical Aramaic phrases, recycled with occasional later Aramaic or Hebrew supplements and supplemented with Biblical Hebrew citations. The biblical lexemes were lifted out of their original co-text and rearranged as an acrostic. The poem celebrates the reconstruction of the Temple and the city walls in the face of fierce opposition, a theme markedly enriched with eschatological motifs. It is quite difficult to date this specimen of mixed Aramaic poetry, but the dialect admixture and some dialect features suggest a relative date in the last quarter of the second millennium CE.

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Willem Smelik

Abstract

The genealogy of textual witnesses of the Jewish Aramaic Bible translations is fraught with difficulties because our copies reveal traces of non-linear influences. This article explores some criteria for the selection of variant readings in order to achieve a meaningful picture of the relationships between the witnesses, while focusing on the results of two editions and two manuscripts whose relationship to one another is known. The second part of this article provides an evaluation of the results in the form of shock waves and initial trees. A case is made for the preservation of all variant readings, while using our images of text relations as a heuristic device to help understand the course of variant readings.

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Willem Smelik

The role of Aramaic translations for the argument of Talmudic discourse has rarely been analysed. This essay charts the way translations are used in connection with the animal hides used to manufacture the Tabernacle’s tent cover. The examples include marked, unmarked, anonymous and ascribed quotations of translations. The use of translation is sometimes pivotal but highly subject to change. Rav Yoseph’s translation in b. Shab. 28a originally served as an objection, but has been placed in a new co-text. It still performs a more than peripheral role for the flow and turn of argument in the Talmudic discourse.